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Transatlantic Cooperation in the Field of Defence Technology

Transatlantic Cooperation in the Field of Defence Technology

Recommendation 753 on transatlantic cooperation in the field of defence technology. Report (Document A/1883) submitted on behalf of the Technological and Aerospace Committee by Mr Monfils, Rapporteur (Belgium, Liberal Group). Source: WEU, Paris, November 30, 2004.

      The Assembly,

  1. Considering the importance of good relations for transatlantic cooperation in the field of defence technology;

  2. Noting, nevertheless, that this relationship, which is one of cooperation but also competition, suffers from an undeniable imbalance;

  3. Stressing that the consequence of that imbalance is that the US market is closed to European equipment;

  4. Noting that another problem is that of interoperability, in particular between European and American weapons systems;

  5. Welcoming the alliance formed by a number of American and European high-tech companies with a view to developing technological standards that will improve communications among future weapons systems;

  6. Considering, furthermore, that the United States sells almost sixteen times as much defence equipment to the European Union than it buys from it;

  7. Stressing that in spite of the restructuring of Europe's defence aeronautical industries in recent years, those industries, like the EU states themselves, remain obsessed with the fear of United States domination of the European market;

  8. Noting that US companies in this sector have a number of advantages, such as greater financial resources, particularly in the area of technological research and development, a domestic market shielded by a whole arsenal of protectionist legislation, and a captive customer in the US Department of Defense;

  9. Considering that European companies are not on an equal footing with US firms, since they must compete with them on the EU market;

  10. Taking the view that although the EU states have signed up to joint programmes, their diverging economic and political interests and disparate budgets contribute to the difficulties of the European defence industries;

  11. Recalling that it is the responsibility of the public authorities to monitor the balance of economic relations in the defence technologies sector;

  12. Stressing, furthermore, that given the large-scale investments made by a number of European states in the American Joint Strike Fighter JSF/F35 programme, those sums cannot be used for a European fighter aircraft programme;

  13. Considering that, as a consequence, technological research and development will be the hardest hit by the lack of those investments which could have been used to develop a European programme for the European forces;

  14. Noting, in that regard, that the legal constraints affecting technology transfers, particularly in the area of stealth, make it unlikely that such technology could be re-used for a European programme;

  15. Noting that the United States legislation strictly regulates foreign investments, while American companies face no such constraints on the European market, and that technology transfers in the United States are also subject to legal constraints that make it impossible to guarantee security of supply;

  16. Considering that the United States controls strategic exports and that American legislation on the export of dual-use materials is extra-territorial in scope, which means it also applies to goods produced in Europe using American technologies;

  17. Recalling that the European Union suffers from low and piecemeal defence spending and above all, from a lack of concerted action and harmonisation as regards both requirements and the development of the relevant industries;

  18. Welcoming, nevertheless, the efforts undertaken within OCCAR (Joint Armament Cooperation Organisation) and the creation of the European Defence Agency (EDA), which show that when its resources are mobilised in a coherent fashion, Europe seems able to propose competitive solutions allowing a balanced strategic partnership with the United States;

  19. Considering that the EDA will bring together the existing organisations and initiatives in the defence equipment and R&T sectors and that it will be in charge of cooperation with third countries, in particular the United States;

  20. Stressing that the European Commission is in charge of trade negotiations and industrial and technological cooperation programmes with the United States, and that the EDA must find a role in that cooperation;

  21. Recalling, finally, Assembly Recommendation 681 concerning the gap between Europe and the United States in the field of defence research and technology,

      RECOMMENDS that the Council invite the European Union to:

  1. the member states to take action to ensure that the European Defence Agency (EDA) takes on responsibilities in the field of international cooperation, and transatlantic cooperation in particular, bearing in mind the following:

  • governments should reach agreement as quickly as possible on the sharing of responsibilities for the running of the Agency;

  • the current imbalance in transatlantic cooperation could have socio-economic repercussions in Europe, in terms of jobs and foreign trade;

  • the EDA could contribute to a more balanced role for the different partners, particularly in view of the fact that one of its aims is to create an internationally competitive European Defence Equipment Market;

  • the European defence industrial and technological base must not be used only for one-way transatlantic cooperation, sacrificing Europe's strategic autonomy to Euro-American interoperability;

  • if European policy on these issues is not redefined, the Union runs the risk of becoming a pool of sub-contractors to be drawn upon by the United States;

  • the EDA could help check such a development provided it is given the political and financial means to do so;

  • with a view to more effective transatlantic cooperation, the EDA could encourage the EU member states to enter into a commitment similar to the Prague Capabilities Commitment, in order first and foremost to be able to meet the European forces' equipment requirements;

  • the EDA should provide a channel for concerted action, leading to a better flow of information among the member states, but it could also help increase interoperability between European and American equipment, particularly in order to narrow the technology gap separating them and develop new joint approaches on equipment;

  • the EDA should ensure that European investments do not benefit only American companies or joint programmes which are not conducive to developing a more autonomous European defence industry.


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Directeur de la publication : Joël-François Dumont
Comité de rédaction : Jacques de Lestapis, Hugues Dumont, François de Vries (Bruxelles), Hans-Ulrich Helfer (Suisse), Michael Hellerforth (Allemagne).
Comité militaire : VAE Guy Labouérie (†), GAA François Mermet (2S), CF Patrice Théry (Asie).

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